Archive for the ‘Poetry For Charity’ Category:

Poetry By Heart

Written on January 4th, 2015 by adminno shouts

If you are a school based in the UK you might like to get involved in Poetry By Heart, a recital competition, where students have to memorise and perform poems from their category.

There is a wide range and diversity of poems and the archive alone is worth a good look :)

Poetry and Me – Guest Blogger

Written on February 5th, 2014 by adminno shouts

Mab Jones

Biography

Mab Jones is the first ever Resident Poet in the National Botanic Garden of Wales. She is a comic, social media tartlet, event organiser, and all-round ‘litrepreneur’. Her “delightful comic verse, articulate and imaginative” (Three Weeks) has graced nearly 700 stages all over the UK, as well as in the USA and Japan. Her latest project, Dylan’s Angels, is currently accepting bookings, and her first poetry collection is due out this autumn. Find out more at http://about.me/mabjones.

When I was a child, I wanted to be an artist. I drew pictures all the time, constantly, scribbling in all my exercise books, and asking for ‘drawing stuff’ every birthday and Christmas. However, I was also an avid reader, and fancied myself a writer – age about 10 I asked for a typewriter from Santa, and I got my wish. I never really wrote anything, though. All my energy went into drawing, I rested by reading, and the stories I absorbed seemed to inspire my imagination and make me draw even more… I loved books like ‘Tale of a One-Way Street and other stories‘, with beautiful text (Joan Aiken) and illustrations (Jan Pienkowski). Much later, I wrote my MA dissertation on the relationship between Dickens and his illustrators, in particular George Cruikshank, and my aim one day is to create something that I both write and draw. I’d like to work with an illustrator, of course. But I do greatly admire poets such as John Hegley and Phill Jupitus, who can do both.

In any case, I then won an assisted place to go to what some say is the best school in Wales – Howell’s School in Llandaf. My local school, the one I should have gone to, was widely considered to be the worst (Glan Ely). The contrast between my school life (school song written by Rudyard Kipling, royal visits, lacrosse and tennis, etc.) contrasted greatly with my working class home life. It created a posh/chav dichotomy in my character, which you can see in my poems/performance. Actually, I dislike both of those words, but I enjoy using the fact I can appear both very upper class and as common as muck in what I do. And, I like entertaining people, but I also can’t seem to help addressing serious concerns and trying to make people think.

When I got to high school, I happened to see a display of GCSE level art in my first week, and I suddenly felt like I didn’t want to be an artist any more. I realised in one sinking instant that the level I had been taught at so far meant I wasn’t as good as the girls here, and I would probably never be as good. I think now that this was a silly thing to think, because if I had been determined I could have caught up and made myself improve. But, at the time, I compared myself, with much older girls actually, and gave up on that idea altogether.

After that, I just wanted to be a writer. I still love art, though, and I am okay at drawing. But, I focused on the other thing, especially after the age of 13 when I got 90% in the English exam, coming top in the year, and I realised I had some sort of talent with words. My parents didn’t notice that I had come top. I felt ignored at home, but I was lucky in that I always had one teacher at every school I went to who singled me out and made it their mission to encourage me. These teachers were always female. In Howell’s, it was a woman called Mrs Maylin, who most of the other girls hated, because she was so strict. I liked this, however, because it made me work harder. I found it quite easy to coast along, generally achieving a ‘B’ level in most subjects, without ever doing much work. I never revised for exams, for instance. But, I did revise for English, because I loved it, and because the teacher made me want to do well, and as a result I always did.

However, I only wanted to be a poet very recently. I thought I would end up a novelist, especially because I consumed the things when I was younger. It was only when I was 29, and had received a new writers’ bursary from Literature Wales, giving me time to write, that I started penning little poems, as a bit of light relief from the novel. The novel got to about 80,000 words, but it’s a very turgid thing. I hope it never sees the light of day! The poems were really good fun to write, though, and I somehow ended up doing them at an open mic in Cardiff one night. I remember my hands were shaking horribly. But, I enjoyed the adrenaline rush, and the applause, so I did it again… The third open mic I read at was run by Literature Wales, which is where then-Executive Director, poet Peter Finch, saw me, and used his powers to add me onto the list of contenders at the Welsh heat of the BBC Radio 4 National Poetry Slam. I got through, and my 5th gig, then, was in London, on national radio, and I got paid, and put up in a nice hotel, and realised there was a thing called ‘spoken word’… And so, I thought I’d continue with that!

Since then, I’ve performed nearly 700 times… I supported Porky the Poet (Phill Jupitus) at the Edinburgh Fringe last summer, with my friend and comedy partner Clare Ferguson-Walker (who is a poet and an artist, un-coincidentally), I’ve gigged in the US and Japan, I’ve headlined for Apples & Snakes, and performed at Latitude, and am having my first book out with Burning Eye Books in October… I gig, run workshops, write a column on live literature events for Wales’s biggest listings and arts mag, Buzz, do some social media stuff, organise events, and so on. I’ve collaborated with cool people, I travel about a fair bit, I have a lovely writer boyfriend called Johnny Giles, who I think is a true poetic genius. I have a very happy and active poetry life! I feel I am very lucky, because there is no line between what I love doing and what I do for a living… My work is my hobby is my life is my love, really!

However, I often feel like I am ‘two poets’ inside, one a Wendy Cope/Pam Ayres-style comic, the other more a sort of Mary Oliver/Sharon Olds style. I enjoy making people laugh, but then I have this other voice that is, at the risk of sounding terribly pretentious, more mystically-inclined. I keep writing because I love making people laugh, but also because I don’t feel that voice is fully developed. It comes from a different place to the funny one. At one point, a couple of years ago, I felt like I was under a sort of curse, to always be hilarious… Even the serious things I attempted turned out funny. I stopped writing poems for a bit, for a couple of years, actually, though no-one really noticed as I had written so many before… I had some kidney problems for about a year and a half, too, but I went a lot of changes during that period. Now, I’ve started to write more in that other voice/style, which you can see on my blog, and I’ve also accepted my comic self much more, choosing to see the ability to make people laugh as more a blessing than otherwise.



I think I started writing poems as a sort of therapy. I was having therapy at the time…! When I was a child and teenager, I suffered from Selective Mutism, but this was only diagnosed at the age of 30, after I began writing and expressing myself. You can read a bit about that in this Apples and Snakes blog. Most of my early comic poems came from feeling angry… I think there is a link between comedy and rage! It’s a way of dealing with that emotion… I feel much less angry now, and so my ink comes from other emotions. I love the beauty of nature, and I am resident poet in the National Botanic Garden of Wales. That’s one well of ink I’ve been dipping into recently. Another is the fact I am in love… Sometimes I feel bubbles of feeling come up from my heart as if they were physical things, and then they come out of my hand in the form of writing. Recently, I wrote a poem in my sleep! You can read that one here. Anyway, at the moment, I feel like I am changing as a writer, and learning new modes and means of expression.

Poetry for me is a way of life.

I think there are a fair few poets who feel this way, too. I admire Jo Bell, Helen Ivory, and Dominic Berry, people who write and read every single day; who want to spread the joy of this amazing art we could never be without, and who write beautiful blogs, share news of comps and opportunities on their social media profiles, who run events, and who encourage others to write and read and develop as well, by example as well as directly. I aspire towards that type of generosity; I like to encourage others, and enjoy putting on events and things so that others can have space for their own voices to develop. I see poetry as inclusive, rather than exclusive. Poets who think of poetry as some special, refined, highly rarefied art, only for the super-intelligent and Godlike amongst us, are not the poets I particularly like or get on well with.

As for me – I feel I am about one twentieth of the poet I am going to be. T.S. Elliot said it takes twenty years to find your poetic voice. In which case, I am only just over six years old! I am terribly pleased with the poems I’ve been writing recently, both funny and not-funny, and I feel very happy with how my life is as a result of becoming/realising I am a poet. Yay poetry, basically! I don’t know who, where, or how I’d be without it.

Chap Book and Anthology

Written on March 15th, 2010 by adminno shouts

At the request of several participants we are constructing a chapbook of poems written during WoPoWriMo for those who took part. The e-book will be only be sent to the mailing list so will not count as ‘published’ for those seeking publication in journals and the like. It would just be fun to share what we have all done with each other.

There is also work afoot to make an anthology of poems written during WoPoWriMo. This will be available as both an e-book and a physical book, and will very much count as published! Any profit from sales will be split between WoPoWriMo (to do site maintenance and the like for next year) and the Wikipaedia Foundation (they have an awful lot of infrastructure that costs money and they give us a valuable resource! Plus they are involved in many smaller projects that should help relieve poverty in the long run).

We hope you will wish to take part in one or both of these projects! Send up to five of your poems in the body of the email to books@wopowrimo.org with the subject line Chap and Anthology or if you wish to only take part in the Chap book just Chap. A short bio or informative bit about yourself complete with any personal blog links etc. would be good too. The maximum word count is 500 for the biography.

We are very excited about these projects and hope you will be too!

From Team WoPo

Silent Voice – Mental Health and Creativity

Written on February 24th, 2010 by adminno shouts

Silent Voice

There are many advantages to expressing yourself creatively. Have you ever wondered why for example poetry and art is so expressive, why it brings about such strong feelings in the person reading/seeing it? When you’re angry, upset, frustrated – or happy for that matter – do you ever grab a pen and just write it all down? A letter to a friend, a journal entry, a poem…

We were asked by WoPoWriMo to write something about the advantages of using poetry to express creatively some of the struggles faced by those suffering from mental health problems. Many of those reading this will already be poets – experienced or budding – so you will already be aware of the advantages writing creatively can bring to your own mental wellbeing, whether you suffer from mental ill health or not.

There are many studies highlighting the positive effects of writing or expressing oneself creatively to overcome difficult times – and indeed art therapy seems to be increasingly popular. That creative outlets are so encouraged in many branches of care speaks volumes to its effectiveness. An example of such a study is Mcardle, S. & R. Byrt (2001) “Fiction, poetry and mental health: expressive and therapeutic uses of literature” in the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, Volume 8 Issue 6, Pages 517 – 524; however there is an abundance of literature out there supporting these advantages.

The National Self Harm Network’s ‘Silent Voice’ poetry book is an anthology of poems written by members of the charity’s support forum. It is a collection of works, written by those with personal experience of self harm, exploring a variety of topics and feelings. It is a collection, which encompasses both the positive and negative emotions which may be felt, exploring both the despair of darker days, as well as hope for the future. As stated in the foreword, it’s a book in which ‘the reader is invited to follow a journey from the darkest time through recovery from self harm – through times of sadness and happy moments, with humour and compassion.

“Self-harm happens when we can’t communicate our feelings, when words fail us, and pain is written out instead upon the body. But words don’t fail these young writers; they deal honestly with the pain, frustration and anger that lie behind such desperate acts. I hope the writing itself has helped them come to terms with their feelings; I’m sure it can go on to help others, whether self-harmers themselves, or the people who love them.” – Jo Baker, author of ‘Offcomer’,’ The Mermaid’s Child’ and ‘The Telling’, and lecturer in Creative Writing at Lancaster University

The idea for the book was conceived from the support forum’s Creativity board, a place in which people are encouraged to find alternative outlets for emotions, through the use of poetry, words and art. Self harm is complex and an individual’s relationship with self harm will vary greatly. However the charity takes a pro-active stance in trying to help members find an alternative form of expression and outlet for emotions and believe that activities like poetry can be an effective aid in helping a person move towards recovery and help reduce the incidences of self harm.

We have seen from many of our online members how writing – in general, although poetry seems to be the most popular way of expressing oneself on our Creativity board – has helped them express some of the thoughts and feelings they never dared talk about elsewhere. It’s helped many come out of their shell and eventually express themselves (through poetry or otherwise) to family, friends or health professionals which has meant they have been able to get the help they need and deserve.

It is hoped that Silent Voice will highlight the link between creativity and mental health, in a positive way, highlighting a productive outlet for emotions as well as raising awareness and understanding around the subject of self harm.

You can purchase the book for £5.99 including free postage and packaging within the UK. Please contact us for details of postage and packaging outside of the UK.

Cheques and postal orders can be sent to PO Box 7264, Nottingham NG1 6WJ, made payable to National Self Harm Network. You can also pay via PayPal: if paying by PayPal please note that you are required to also send an email to info@nshn.co.uk to inform us that you have made a payment.

Peter Wyton – Guest Poetry Blogger

Written on February 10th, 2010 by adminone shout

Peter Wyton

I don’t remember when I began writing poetry, but when I’m asked why I write it, I generally say that it’s an itch I feel periodically obliged to scratch. Certainly I started in what must be a fairly standard manner, inflicting my efforts firstly on my family, then in the magazine of Friends School, Lisburn, in Ireland. From about the age of 12 I appeared periodically on BBC Radio Children’s Hour, broadcast from Belfast. There was no payment, but for each performance you received a book token for seven shillings and sixpence.

At 15 years old, I joined the Royal Air Force and served in it until I reversed the numbers and left at the age of 51. During the majority of my service career, my poetry output was limited to ‘crew-room verse’, very parochial and purely for the amusement of my colleagues, who liked their verse (a) to rhyme (b) to be about them (c) to be funny and, for preference, rude.

However, in the early ‘90s, I discovered the small poetry press and began to subscribe and submit to a variety of periodicals such as Iota, Smiths Knoll, Orbis, Envoi, etc. At first, I imagine like many others, I fired off poems, machine-gun fashion, in all directions, gradually discovering which magazines seemed most inclined to accept my work and which wouldn’t. I also began to send work off to written competitions and found that I could gain some success in that field as well.

The notion of performing in public never occurred to me at that time. You can’t blithely tell a promoter that you’ll appear at such and such a venue on such and such a date in the future, only to find that Her Majesty would prefer you to be in some remote part of the world instead.

However, four days after leaving the R.A.F., in April 1996, I hopped onto the stage at the Gloucster Guildhall, took part in my first Performance Poetry Slam and discovered a competitive and exhibitionist streak I didn’t know I possessed. There is something particularly appealing to me about Slams. A lot of it lies in the total unpredictably of what’s going to happen, what you’re going to hear and who you’re going to meet. I never tire of them, although though they rarely earn you any money on the night. But right from the beginning I found that a good performance might (and did) earn me support slots with established figures such as Brian Patten, John Hegley and Attila the Stockbroker, or invitations to appear as a featured artist at a poetry evening, or even, in one memorable instance, to be presented with an expensive sex toy donated by the Ann Summers company (which I contrived to sell to an appreciative audience member before I left the stage!).

More conventionally, within a couple of years, I began to acquire a smattering of invitations to appear, not only at literary festivals, but at an eye-watering variety of disparate events, ranging from the W.I. to jails, from an Air Guitar Championship to a classical music festival. I’ve performed poetry from the back of a flat-bed truck in a Welsh field, a ferry boat bobbing around Bristol harbour, a knitting convention,a couple of comedy clubs, several schools and goodness knows how many pubs and clubs between Devon and Yorkshire.

Particularly pleasing has been a stint as the Poet Laureate for the Gloucestershire1000 project, a brace of nominations for the National Poetry Prize and reaching the final of Radio Four’s first ever broadcast Slam. I’ve produced eight slim volumes of my work, the latest of which, ‘Not All Men are from Mars’ I sell in support of the charity Women’s Aid. Poems of mine have found their way onto the BBCs Poetry Please and Something Understood, into national papers like the Daily Express and the Daily Telegraph.

A decade and a half since I first climbed onto a stage, I’ve enjoyed and am continuing to enjoy, innumerable evenings in good company all over the place. I’ve indulged in poetic collaborations with a number of talented individuals including Emily Wills, Jo Bell, Paul Eccentric and Alison Brumfitt. I’ve met a fair proportion of the great and good on the contemporary poetry scene and have every intention of carrying on for as long as I can put pen to paper, or stagger up to a microphone.

Lately I’ve started to pay more attention to poetry on-line. I’ve contrived to inveigle myself into some very good company appearing on webzines such as Chimaera, The Flea and the wonderfully named Shit Creek Review, thereby putting my work before audiences in America, Australia and beyond.

If you’re interested in knowing more about what I do and where I do it, try www.myspace.com/peterwytonpoet